When I took a last minute sub position this morning for the middle school Strings teacher I expected a day of study halls, at worst. Maybe play some clips from Mr. Hollands Opus. It’s just about 3rd period and I haven’t done much yet. Lessons have been cancelled, but some ambitious 6th graders came and practiced in the room anyway.

I listened and was able to hear that a couple of them were horribly out of tune, bowing in the wrong direction and somewhat off-beat.

Earlier, when the assistant principal asked me if I had any strings experience (polite conversation), I said, Um, a little.

This is true. My strings experience is this: In 3rd and 4th grade I played the violin. I remember how to hold a bow, which has helped me with my more recent experience. Last year I fixed up my great Uncle Charlie’s violin, and for a short while was working on Red River Valley.

So. I have enough of an ear from singing and experimenting with other instruments to hear when things are terribly amiss, musically. Knowing what in the dickens to do about it? Clueless.

Imagine my suprise then in reading through the sub plans, discovering that I am to lead two periods of Orchestra Ensembles in a variety of warm-ups and compositions.

This. Is going to be good. Although the end result will be no worse than trying to fill in for AP Physics, it will certainly be more entertaining.

I picture myself, tapping the baton on the stand. Concertmaster? An A please. First violins, okay now second. Violas. Cello. Bass. One, two, three, four. I keep the beat with my right while wildy raising my left to signal each section to come in as the music instructs. I get carried away. (Conductors always do). I get wrapped up in Handel’s Little Fugue. My hands are contained in small movements and I hunch over slightly as I encourage the piano, they increase. Mezzoforte! Suddenly I am waving on into the finish at Carnegie Hall. Fortissimo!

A screech. A second violin is out of tune. Back in the basement, the 6th graders lift their bows. Class dismissed.